Liverpool was desperate to sign Virgil van Dijk in the summer of 2017 and made an offer for the Netherlands international, who handed in a transfer request at Southampton – but the Saints turned it down. However, Liverpool returned to the table with an improved offer of 75million pounds in December 2017, and Southampton sanctioned the exit in the January transfer window.
Liverpool splashed a huge amount at that time for a defender, and it raised the eyebrows of many. But now, after four years, Van Dijk proved that he is worth every penny.
Virgil Van Dijk established himself as one of the best defenders in the world after winning the UEFA Champions League and the English Premier League within two years. He was one of the missing pieces in the Liverpool squad, along with Alisson, that prevented Klopp from fighting titles. The defence was always an issue in the past years for the Reds. It was frustrating to see the lack of good defenders and how it affected them in crucial matches.
Before his arrival, the duo of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren was good for Liverpool, but not the best. They lacked perfection.
After Liverpool signed Van Dijk, he significantly helped Liverpool improve their defence. He was literally like a wall in front of the goal, and in the next season, when they signed, Alisson from Roma gave Van Dijk more confidence as they had a world-class goalkeeper.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has always praised the Dutch defender, and he is one of his favourite players. Jurgen Klopp believes Virgil van Dijk is back to his best following the ACL injury that sidelined him for the majority of last season.
The Dutchman returned to team training in time for pre-season in 2021 and had been an ever-present for the Reds in the Premier League this year before testing positive for Covid-19 in December.
The German manager said: “He’s been really good, really good. Long may it continue. Obviously, the rehab worked really well, so he came back in really good shape. He needed some rhythm, very important, and he got that rhythm. He’s now back to his best, for sure.”
In August 2020, he signed a new four-year contract, keeping him at the club until 2025. After signing the contract, he said: “Since day one when I joined the club, I felt so much appreciation from the fans and from my teammates and the staff, that I could be a very important member of this football club,” Van Dijk continued.
Individually, he was voted the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and UEFA Defender of the Season for 2018-19, while he finished second in 2019 Ballon d’Or and The Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2019.